1.3 million worldwide racers took on the challenge of the Gran Turismo 6 demo, or at least downloaded it. The demo also served as the qualifying process for the 2013 GT Academy competition; a small selection of the victorious speedsters progressed to the next stage of the process, where they'll fight to win the eventual grand prize of a spot on Nissan's real-life racing team.

The rest of us must make do with the virtual prospect that is the game proper, due on PS3 this holiday. The demo remains open until the end of August to those who downloaded it.
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GT ACADEMY TIME TRIAL CLOSES WITH OVER 765,000 EUROPEAN ENTRIES
Gran Turismo®6 demo downloaded by more than 1.3 million worldwide
Leading competitors move to National Finals and first taste of Nismo performance cars



London & Paris - 31 July, 2013: Nissan and PlayStation®'s award-winning GT Academy competition attracted more than 148,984 racing-driver hopefuls from the UK to take part in the 2013 qualifying time-trial. The online phase of the virtual-to-reality competition closed on Sunday night with more than 765,000 entries overall recorded from the 18 participating European countries. Worldwide, more than 1.3 million people downloaded the special demo of the forthcoming Gran Turismo®6 game that featured ultra-realistic recreations of Silverstone Circuit, the all-electric Nissan Leaf and Nissan 370Z.

With the first phase of the competition over, the 16 virtual racers from the online time trial will now link up with eight winners from the Goodwood Festival of Speed and The O2 Wild Card 'Live Events' to take part in a live National Final at Silverstone Circuit on 12 and 13 August, 2013. National Final events across Europe will feature a Gran Turismo gaming competition, before competitors are tested behind the wheel of a real Nissan Nismo performance car, as well as for fitness and personality. The best of the gamers will be selected to represent UK at European 'Race Camp', taking place at the UK's Silverstone Circuit in September.

At Race Camp, the PlayStation gamers will be put through a series of tough driving, mental and fitness challenges under the watchful eye of high-profile, experienced country mentors and judges. Now in its fifth year, the GT Academy programme has evolved its selection process to ensure the gamers with the most racing potential will have their chance to become GT Academy Champion and a 'Nismo Athlete'. The winner of the 2013 European competition will be rewarded with a full season's racing in a 500+ horsepower Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 race car.

The GT Academy Driver Development Programme has evolved into one of the most sophisticated in the world. Its success has been evidenced in championship wins as well as notable LMP2 Class podiums at the Le Mans 24 Hours for former GT Academy Champions Lucas Ordoñez (SPA) and Jann Mardenborough (UK). Just last weekend, Jann and Lucas teamed up with the 2012 GT Academy winners from Europe and Germany, Wolfgang Reip and Peter Pyzera, to record a Pro-Am podium (seventh overall) in the famous Spa 24 Hours in the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. Jann had a busy weekend, having also recorded second place in a Formula 3 race at Spa.

Nissan's Director of Global Motorsport, Darren Cox, has been a passionate advocate of the GT Academy Champions, now Nismo Athletes, and is keen to assess the 2013 crop. "GT Academy has been responsible for unearthing some fantastic racing talent and we have the results to prove it. With so many entrants this year and increasing levels of realism from GT6, we are absolutely confident that there will be some huge talent among these gamers. With our experience over the past five years of GT Academy, and increasingly sophisticated and innovative tests developed in conjunction with Nismo, we know how to ensure that the best talent will rise to the top over the coming weeks. There is a lot to play for. We have recently announced that previous champions will be racing or testing in Australia, the USA and Japan, and we had all six Nismo Athletes in action at the Spa 24 Hours just last weekend."

"The online qualifying demo on GT6 has been very well received and the numbers of entries to GT Academy is phenomenal," commented Usama Al-Qassab, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's VP of Product Marketing. "After National Finals the action moves to Silverstone and, of course, these ultra-fast gamers will know exactly where to go having completed so many virtual laps there on the GT6 demo! Real driving starts to take over in GT Academy from National Finals, and we are looking forward to working with Nissan and Nismo as they implement some sophisticated performance tests for the gamers."

The 2013 GT Academy 'leader board', that can be viewed on www.gran-turismo.com, shows that Ben Spurge (Sony Entertainment Network ID - Spurgy777) was the leading UK player. Overall, French gamer PSN ID: Ti-tech85, was the quickest around the virtual Silverstone Circuit with a lap time of 2:16.334 in a Nissan 370Z Tuned Car (GT Academy) '08.

The GT6™ online demo will now remain open until the end of August with all players rewarded with the inclusion of a Nissan GT-R to drive in a final challenge, not linked to the GT Academy entry.

Details of how to enter GT Academy 2013 can be found on various platforms including: www.facebook.com/GTAcademy, www.gran-turismo.com and @GTAcademy.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.